You may not know that I've started a mentoring series being featured by my friend Casey on her blog. You know Casey, right? She's a really amazing woman and mother with a beautiful, loving heart.
But just so I have my words at home here on my blog as well, I'll be re-posting them a month behind. (In other words, I'm posting #1 here today from last month, and she'll be putting up #2 in a day or two.)
If you follow Casey, you'll see #2 a month ahead of it appearing here!
Have a great weekend!
Don't drown in wrapping paper and gingerbread.
When I was a new mom, I read every book I could on babies. I talked to other friends who were young moms. I took the hospital classes. The idea of being unprepared freaked. me. out. So when my daughter was born, I was constantly striving to feel prepared.
In fact, I spent much of my days preparing so nothing would be forgotten and nothing could go wrong. Preparing the diaper bag. Preparing for meals. Preparing for bedtime, and nighttime feedings, and mid-day accidents, and every possibility that the day could bring my baby and me. It was exhausting, and motherhood quickly became the most stressful job I’d ever had.
I was striving to be prepared for whatever came next, many days I failed. My tricks for getting my daughter to stop crying suddenly wouldn’t work, or naptime was a disaster, or I forgot a change of clothes for her, or lost her pacifier in the store. One day, I accidentally locked her and the keys in the car. With it running. Because babies and life are very unpredictable, I felt like a constant failure.
Not only was I not enjoying my baby, but I was trying to achieve the impossible.
An acquaintance suggested I join her MOPS group (A Christian-based group for moms of kids under the age of 5). I didn’t want to go. But it happened to meet at a church across the street, so I tried it. The first meeting I attended, I felt so understood I wanted to burst into tears. Every woman around me looked like they went through the same train wreck of a morning to get there as I did, but they all seemed to be okay with it. I have no idea what the speaker talked about, only that she said, with deep sincerity, that we as mothers had the most important job in the world. Oh, the honor she lavished on me and my humble role as mother to my baby! With a lump in my throat, I left that day with new wind in my sails.
Shortly after, something clicked. I began to get a new understanding for what it meant to be prepared. I couldn’t be prepared to protect myself against every circumstance that could come our way during the day. But I could be prepared with support.
Having a support system made up of women at my same stage became my preparedness. They became my emotional and practical lifelines. I could call the mom with a child a little older than mine when I needed to ask her a question. In fact, I still do. I just recently asked her how she deals with her middle-school aged daughter and the mature content of the books she now reads. Still. After nearly ten years, I look to this mom for advice.
From then on, I made it my mission to surround myself with mom friends I could spend time with regularly. Our kids would play while we hashed out the issues we were facing as mothers. Yes, we were half-listening to each other and half-mothering. It was still totally worth it. These friendships made me feel normal; I never guessed that everyone forgot a change of clothes for their baby once in a while. Instead of feeling embarrassed about what I was getting wrong, I could see the ways in which I was growing and becoming quite capable. My self-confidence was going up, my stress was going down, and I was finally feeling free to enjoy my baby girl.
Now, I see young mothers who don’t have these kinds of friendships established. I notice they seem to feel far more hopeless, discouraged, and alone when challenges arise. Friends, God has designed us to function better in community. Find these kinds of women in your life. Join a MOPS group, or a play group, or a toddler class of some sort that meets at least twice a month and be intentional about pursuing relationships with other moms. This is NOT for the sake of your child; you are not making playdates for them. This is for you, and when you are more uplifted, you will naturally parent your child better.
It takes some work to make friends. But not as much work as it does to survive motherhood alone. Being prepared is simply a matter of having someone who understands what you’re going through and can lend a hand when you need.
“Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
“Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.”